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Personality Psychology

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Personality Psychology ­ PSY 405
Lesson 33
Social Learning theorists explain behavior in terms of interaction between cognitive, behavioral and
environmental determinants. Bandura is a Social Learning theorist.
Bandura consider learning principles to be sufficient to explain and predict behavior and behavior change.
The focus is on interaction, between the external stimuli and internal cognitions in a social context.
1-Bandura suggests most human behavior is learned by observation. In Modeling we observe the behavior
of others and use the information as a guide for our own behavior.
2-Bandura and his colleagues have demonstrated that subjects allowed to observe a set of responses
performed by another individual (the model) tend to exhibit these same responses (model) when placed in a
similar setting.
Example: Our behavior develops as a result of observational learning. We observe the available models
and imitate these models. Such as our parents, teachers, politicians, film heroes, celebrities and even
fictional characters like Superman, Spiderman.
1- Biographical Sketch
2-Reconceptualization of Reinforcement
3-Principles of Observational Learning
Attentional Process
Retention Processes
Production Process
Motivational Processes
4-Reciprocal Determinism
5-The Self-System
Judgmental Process
6-Applications to Therapy
7- Research
8- Summary
The critical role Bandura assigns to imitation in personality development is best seen in his analysis of its
contribution to the acquisition of novel responses. In a series of experiments done with children, Bandura
and his colleagues have demonstrated that subjects allowed to observe an unusual set of responses
performed by another individual (the model) tend to exhibit these same responses when placed in a similar
In one representative study (Bandura, Ross, & Ross, 1961), nursery school children, tested one at a time,
watched an adult model perform a series of particular aggressive acts, physical and verbal, toward a large
toy Bobo doll. Other children saw a non aggressive adult who sat quietly in the experimental room and paid
no attention to the doll. Later, the children were mildly frustrated and then placed alone in the room with
the doll. The behavior of the groups tended to be congruent with the adult models. The children who had
seen an aggressive adult themselves performed more aggressive acts than a control group given no prior
experience with a model and made more responses than the control children that were quite exact
Personality Psychology ­ PSY 405
Imitations of the model's behaviors. Further, the children who had observed a non aggressive adult made
even fewer aggressive responses than the control subjects.
As this experiment illustrates,
1-Children can learn novel responses merely by observing others.
2- Of equal importance, it shows that learning can take place without the children having had the
opportunity to make the response themselves and without either the model or themselves having been
rewarded or reinforced for the behavior.
The capacity to perform novel responses observed some time before but never actually practiced is
made possible by the human's cognitive abilities. The stimuli provided by the model are transformed
into images of what the model did or said or looked like and, even more important, are transformed into
verbal symbols that can later be recalled. These symbolic, cognitive skills also allow individuals to
transform what they have learned or combine what they have observed in a number of models into new
patterns of behavior. Thus, by observing others, one may develop novel, innovative solutions and not
merely slavish imitations.
In human cultures, novel behavior is very frequently acquired by observing the behavior of others. Often
the instruction is quite direct; a child for example, learns what he or she sees others do. But Individuals
may also be influenced by models presented in more symbolic forms. Pictorial presentations, such as
those in movies and television, are highly influential sources of models.
Bandura, Ross, and Ross (1963a), for example, found that children who watched the aggressive
behavior of a live adult model were equal in their tendency to imitate than children who were shown a
movie of the same behavior or even an animated cartoon.
Example: All films, Television dramas and cartoons where heroes or models behave aggressive are
teaching observers to be aggressive and violent.
1- Sutan Rahi films or Van Dam movies.
2-"Waris " a TV drama set the stage for aggressive television plays.
3-All cartoons films.
Bandura suggests that exposure to models:
First if a model's behavior may simply serve to elicit the performance of similar responses. This
facilitating effect is especially likely to occur when the behavior is of a socially acceptable nature.
The second way a model may influence an observer occurs when the model is performing a deviant
behavior. The observer's inhibitions about performing the behavior may be strengthened or weakened by
watching the model, depending on whether the model's behavior has been punished or rewarded.
Rosekrans and Hartup (1967), for example, demonstrated that children who saw a model's aggressive
behavior being consistently rewarded subsequently showed a high degree of imitative aggression while
those who saw it consistently punished exhibited practically no imitative behavior. Children exposed to
a model sometimes rewarded and sometimes punished displayed an intermediate amount of aggression.
The types of vicarious learning we have been discussing involve actions falling into the general category of
instrumental or operant responses. Bandura (1969) has pointed to another kind of learning based on the
observation of a model that is crucial in social learning theory, namely the vicarious acquisition of
classically conditioned emotional responses. Not only may observers exposed to the emotional reactions of
a model experience similar reactions, but they may also begin to respond emotionally to stimuli that
produced these reactions in the model. In an Illustrative experiment, Bandura and Rosenthal (1966) had
each subject watch as a model, introduced as an actual subject was presented with a series of buzzer
signals. Following each occurrence of the buzzer, the model simulated a variety of pain reactions that the
subject was falsely told were elicited by an intense shock delivered immediately after the buzzer. As
Indicated by a physiological measure of emotional responsivity, the subjects came to exhibit a conditioned
emotional response to the buzzer, even in test trials in which the model was absent and despite the fact that
they never directly experienced the painful unconditioned stimulus supposedly administered to the model.
Personality Psychology ­ PSY 405
4-Reciprocal Determinism
Bandura (1978) suggests that explanations of human behavior typically have been provided in terms of a
limited set of determinants acting in a unidirectional manner. Learning theorists, for example, suggest that
behavior is controlled by situational forces. It is true that Skinner comments on organisms' capacity for
counter control, but even this notion paints the environment as the instigating force that the Individual
attempts to counteract. Skinner's environment serves as "an autonomous force that automatically shapes,
orchestrates, and controls behavior" (1978. p. 344). Personality theorists account for behavior in terms of
internal dispositions and motives. Even in Interactionist formulations (e.g., Murray and Allport), the person
and the environment largely operate in an autonomous or unidirectional manner.
In contrast, social learning theory conceptualizes behavior in terms of reciprocal determinism; that is,
personal influences, environmental forces, and behavior itself function as interdependent rather than
autonomous determinants. The effect of each of the three components is conditional on the others. For
example, the environment is a potentiality whose effects depend on the organism's understanding of it and
behavior in it. Similarly, a person plays different roles and has different expectations across different
situations, people seek out and create the environments to which they respond, and behavior itself
contributes to defining the environment and the person's understanding of who he or she is. Bandura is
suggesting, in part, that people do not simply react to the external environment; rather, external factors
influence behavior only through the mediation of a person's cognitive processes. By altering their
environment or by creating conditional self-inducements, people influence the stimuli to which they
Over the years, many writers have recognized that individual dispositions and situational forces interact to
produce behavior, but these interaction processes have been conceptualized in three very different ways.
in unidirectional Interaction, persons and situations are regarded as independent entities that combine to
generate behavior. According to Bandura, this point of view is simplistic, because personal and
environmental factors in fact influence one another. In a bidirectional conception of Interaction, persons
and situations are regarded as Interdependent causes, but behavior is seen only as a consequence that does
not figure in the causal process. In the social learning view of reciprocal determinism, behavior,
environmental forces, and personal characteristics all function as "interlocking determinants, of each
Bandura is making the point that we must be flexible in considering the interactions of person, behavior,
and environment. For example, suppose that we notice a student who is talking before class. How are we to
understand that behavior? A personality approach might talk about the person being talkative, a learning
approach would look for environmental reinforcers for the talking behavior, and an interactionist approach
would consider the contributions of both the person and the situation to the behavior. Bandura, however,
suggests that we recognize the reciprocal determining relationship among the person, the behavior, and the
environment. That is. the person has a tendency to talk and the environment reinforces talking, but It is also
the case that talking feeds back to make the person more likely to talk in the future, and the talking
behavior also contributes to making a classroom the sort of setting in which talking occurs. Furthermore,
we need to realize that the person contributes to the nature of the environment, just as the environment
influences who the person is. Person, situation, and behavior are Inextricably Intertwined.
Reciprocal determinism also provides Bandura with an account of freedom and determinism that sounds
much like that provided by George Kelly. That is, people are free to the extent that they can Influence the
future conditions to which they will respond, but their behavior also is bound by the reciprocal relationship
among personal cognition, behavior, and the environment. As Bandura (1978, pp. 356-357) puts It,
"Because people's conceptions, their behavior, and their environments are reciprocal determinants of each
other. Individuals are neither powerless objects controlled by environmental forces nor entirely free agents
who can do whatever they choose."
Bandura treats the cognitive, dynamic factors that regulate and are regulated by both behavior and the
environment. Bandura discusses the personal determinants of behavior in terms of the self-system and the
Individual's self-efficacy. We now turn to consideration of these person variables.
5- The Self-System
Personality Psychology ­ PSY 405
"In social learning theory, a self-system is not a psychic agent that controls behavior. Rather, it refers to
cognitive structures that provide reference mechanisms and to a set of subfunctlons for the perception,
evaluation, and regulation of behavior" (1978, p. 348). Furthermore, an understanding of the self-
generated influences subsumed in the self-system is necessary for the explanation and prediction of
human behavior. The three component processes involved in the self-regulation of behavior through the
activation of self-prescribed contingencies. Taken as a set, these processes define the self-system and
provide the bases for self-reinforcement of behavior. We will consider each of the three components in
i - Self-Observation
We continually observe our own behavior, noting such factors as the quality quantity, and originality of
what we do. The more complex the behavior being observed, and the more intricate the setting in which it
is observed, the more likely that the self-observation will include some inaccuracies. Temporary mood
states and motivation for change also can influence how one's performances are monitored and processed.
ii -Judgmental Process
Behavior generates a self-reaction through judgments about the correspondence between that behavior and
personal standards. We may define personal adequacy by reference to past behavior and knowledge of
norms or by social comparison processes. The choice of the targets for the comparison obviously influences
the judgments that will be reached: Self-judgments are enhanced when others of lesser ability are chosen
for the comparison. Judgments also vary depending on the importance of the activity being judged as well
as individual attributions as to the determinants of the behavior. We are more critical of behaviors that are
important and for which we hold ourselves to  be responsible.
iii- Self-Reaction
The self-appraisals produced through the operation of the first two components set the stage for the
individual to render an evaluation of the behavior. Favorable appraisals generate rewarding self-reactions,
and unfavorable judgments activate punishing self-responses. Behaviors that are viewed as having no
personal significance do not generate any reaction. The self-reactions produced at this stage alter
subsequent behavior primarily by motivating people to generate the effort needed to attain some desired
outcome (Bandura, 1991b).
The reciprocal influence that Bandura describes as existing between the person and the environment is
illustrated in his contention that self-reinforcement systems are themselves acquired by the same learning
principles responsible for the acquisition of other types of behaviors. Thus, what individuals come to
reward and punish in themselves may reflect the reactions that their behavior has elicited from others.
Parents, peers, and other socializing agents set behavioral standards, rewarding the individual for living up
to them and expressing their displeasure when the person fails. These externally Imposed norms may be
"taken over" by the Individual and form the basis for later self-reinforcement systems.
It might thus be expected, Bandura notes, that Individuals who as children were praised and admired for
rather low levels of accomplishment will grow up to administer self-rewards more generously than those
who were held to higher standards of excellence, and indeed, there is evidence to suggest that this is so
(Kanfer & Marston, 1963).
Extensive evidence indicates that self-evaluative standards can also be acquired vicariously by observing
others. In one representative experiment, Bandura and Kupers (1964) had children observe a model who set
either a high or a low standard of achievement for self-reward. Later observation of the children performing
the same task showed that those exposed to the model with low standards rewarded themselves more
indulgently than those who observed the strick model.
As with other behaviors, characteristics of the model influence whether or not an observer will attend and
attempt to emulate the model's self-reinforcement standards: Under certain conditions, children, for
example, are more likely to model themselves after peers than adults (Bandura, Grusec, & Menlove, 1967b)
or after models whose achievement standards are within their reach rather than those who set them beyond
the child's capacity (Bandura & Whalen, 1966).
Personality Psychology ­ PSY 405
--The components of the self-system do not function as autonomous regulators of behavior. External factors
affect these self-regulatory processes in at least three ways: First, as we. have seen, the internal standards
against which behavior is judged are extracted from our experiences. Second, environmental influences
may alter the manner in which we judge our behavior. For example, people often experience negative
sanctions from others for unmerited self reward. In addition, upholding high standards is "socially
promoted by a vast system of rewards including praise, social recognition, and honors" (Bandura, 1978, p.
354). Finally, there are external factors that promote the "selective activation and disengagement" of self-
reactive influences.
--Development of self-regulatory capabilities does not create an invariant control mechanism within a
person" (1978, p. 354; see also Bandura, 1977b, 1986, 1990). When people engage in reprehensible
behavior that should give rise to self condemnation, they may be able to disengage themselves in a manner
that protects them from self-criticism. illustrates how and at what point this may occur. At the level of the
behavior itself, reprehensible behavior may be rendered acceptable by misperceiving it as occurring in the
service of a moral cause. Moral justification and euphemistic labeling are often used to avoid self as well as
social reproach, and acts that should be deplored can be made palatable by comparing them with flagrant
inhumanities. Another set of defensive measures operates by distorting the relationship between an action
and its effects. Thus, displacement of responsibility to higher authorities and diffusion of responsibility to a
larger group can be used to dissociate oneself from capability by creating the illusion that one is not
personally responsible.
A third set of mechanisms for disengaging from self-condemnation functions by distorting the
consequences of the act. Thus, we may choose to minimize, Ignore, distort, or otherwise insulate ourselves
from what should be apparent detrimental effects of our action. Finally, one may disengage expected self
punishing responses by devaluing, dehumanizing, or blaming the victim of an unjust act, thereby excusing
the act itself. The existence of social stereotypes facilitates such defensive distortions.
Bandura (1978) suggests that "personal judgments" operate at each stage of self-regulation, thereby
precluding "automaticity" of the process." As a consequence, there is "considerable latitude for personal
judgmental factors to affect whether or not self-regulatory influences will be activated in any given
activity" (1978, p. 355). What he does not explain, however, is the origin, operation, and triggering of those
personal judgments. That is, why and when will we choose to disengage ourselves from certain behaviors
and not others. is it a question of level of arousal or extremity of the behavior? If so, what determines the
threshold for activation? Finally; the reader should note the parallel between these mechanisms for
selective disengagement and the defense mechanisms described by Freud and Rogers as well as the
safeguarding strategies articulated by Alfred Adler.
6- Applications to Therapy
As might be anticipated from this description of the major principles of social learning theory, Bandura is
committed to the view that techniques based on learning theory can be highly effective in modifying
undesirable behavior. In fact, Bandura's first book, Principles of behavior modification (1969), is almost
exclusively devoted to a discussion of such techniques, including several novel methods he and his
associates have developed for eliminating unrealistic fear reactions (Bandura, 1968; Bandura, Grusec, &
Menlove, 1967a; Bandura & Menlove, 1968).
These latter techniques, which grew out of experimental work on modeling and observational learning,
assume not only that emotional responses can be acquired by both direct and vicarious experience with
traumatic events but also that under the proper circumstances they can be both directly and vicariously
extinguished. Thus, persons with unrealistic or exaggerated fears should be able to reduce their defensive
and emotional reactions by watching a model interact fearlessly with the anxiety-provoking object or event
and reduce them still further by practicing the model's behavior in a non-threatening, situation under the
latter's guidance. Numerous experiments using various modeling techniques with both children and adults
have yielded highly encouraging results. A study performed by Bandura, Blanchard, and Ritter (1969) is of
particular interest since It incorporates several features of Wolpe's desensitization techniques into the
modeling conditions and also Includes, for purposes of comparison, a conventional desensitization
condition. Adolescents and adults suffering from a severe snake phobia were assigned to one of three
treatment groups. Members of the desensitization group were presented with a graded series of imaginal
Personality Psychology ­ PSY 405
scenes involving snakes while deeply relaxed. In the second group a symbolic modeling condition was used
in which the subjects watched a mm showing models in progressively closer interactions with a large
snake, also while maintaining a relaxed state. The third group observed a live model perform similar
responses with an actual snake. After each of these interactions these latter subjects were asked to perform
the same behavior as the model, initially with the model's assistance and later alone.
All subjects were asked to try to perform a graded series of tasks involving snakes both before and after
treatment. While control subjects, who were given only these two test series and no intervening treatment,
showed essentially no change in their behavior, a marked increase in approach behavior was noted in the
desensitization and symbolic modeling groups following treatment. The most successful technique,
however, was participant modeling, that is, the one in which subjects were exposed to an actual model and
given guided experience in interacting with the phobic object.
7- Research
His research is on aggression and learning of aggressive behavior in children.
8- Summary
1-Social Learning theorists explain behavior in terms of interaction between cognitive, behavioral and
environmental determinants. Bandura is a Social Learning theorist.
2-Bandura suggests most human behavior is learned by observation. In Modeling we observe the behavior
of others and use the information as a guide for our own behavior.
3- New type of reinforcement, Bandura suggests that "vicarious reinforcement" occurs when an individual
witnesses someone else experience reinforcing or punishing consequences for a behavior, and that
individual anticipates similar consequences if she or he produces the same behavior.
4- Such observational learning, or modeling, is governed by four constituent processes: attention, retention,
production, and motivation.
5- All films, Television dramas and cartoons where heroes or models behave aggressive are teaching
observers to be aggressive and violent.
9- Evaluation
His social learning theory emphasizes on the observational learning and the role of modeling in personality
Table of Contents:
  1. THE NATURE OF PERSONALITY THEORY:Objectives of Personality Psychology
  2. PERSONALITY MEASUREMENT:Observational Procedures, Rating Scales
  3. MAIN PERSPECTIVES:Psychometrics, observation, Behavioral Coding Systems
  7. THEORY OF CARL JUNG:Biographical Sketch, Principles of Opposites, The Persona
  8. THE PSYCHOLOGICAL TYPES:Childhood, Young Adulthood, Middle Ages
  9. ALFRED ADLER:Biographical Sketch, Individual Psychology, Feeling of Inferiority
  10. INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGY:Fictional Finalism, Social Interest, Mistaken Styles of Life
  11. KAREN HORNEY:Adjustment to Basic Anxiety, Adjustment Techniques
  12. ADJUSTMENT TO BASIC ANXIETY:Moving Towards People, Moving Against People
  13. ERIK ERIKSON:Anatomy and Destiny, Ego Psychology, Goal of Psychotherapy
  14. ERIK ERIKSON:Human Development, Goal of Psychotherapy
  15. SULLIVAN’S INTERPERSONAL THEORY:Core Concepts, The Self-System
  16. SULLIVAN’S INTERPERSONAL THEORY:Cognitive Process, Tension
  17. CONSTITUTIONAL PSYCHOLOGY:The Structure of Physique, Evaluation
  18. SHELDON’S SOMATOTYPE THEORY:The Structure of Physique
  19. MASLOW’S THEORY:Self-Actualizers Aren't Angels, Biographical Sketch
  20. MASLOW’S THEORY:Basic Concepts of Humanistic Psychology, Problem Centering
  21. ROGERS PERSON CENTERED APPROACH:Humanistic, Actualizing tendency
  22. ROGERS PERSON CENTERED APPROACH:Fully functioning person
  23. ROGERS PERSON CENTERED APPROACH:Client Centered Therapy,
  28. FACTOR ANALYTIC TRAIT THEORY:Factor Analysis, The Nature of Personality
  29. FACTOR ANALYTIC TRAIT THEORY:The Specification Equation, Research Methods
  30. HENRY MURRAY’S PERSONOLOGY:Need, Levels of Analysis, Thema
  36. SKINNER’S THEORY OF PERSONALITY:Biographical Sketch, Books
  37. SKINNER’S THEORY OF PERSONALITY:Positive Reinforcement, Generalization
  38. ALBERT ELLIS THEORY OF PERSONALITY:Biographical Sketch, Social Factors
  43. THE GRAND THEORY OF PERSONALITY:Psychosexual Stages of Development
  44. PERSONALITY APPRAISAL:Issues in Personality Assessment